This is the second blog in a series that will look at the following five perspectives that are changing in the SAP world:
- Impact of Platform Changes – How HANA Impacts How to Plan an SAP Landscape
- Impact of UI Changes – How Users Should Interact with SAP (this blog)
- Impact of Coding Changes – How to Develop Applications (planned)
- Impact of Integration Changes – How to Talk to non-SAP systems
- The Cloud – How SAP Cloud Impacts Users (planned)
Two years ago, I wrote this blog series during SAP TechEd 2012 that explored which options SAP customers had when looking to improve the user experience of their SAP users.
The good news is that the options have not really changed, but the great news is that SAP has taken what were “technical frameworks” at that point and incorporated them into products. Specifically, Fiori has gained momentum and, in line with Sam Yen’s UI strategy, it is now being used for all new applications (that I know of) and is being used to renew many more. Beyond this, SAP has continued to invest in SAP Screen Personas, which can be used to simplify or tweak SAPGUI and has removed the dependence on SilverLight – so it’s much easier to deploy.
I have even heard people whispering that this dynamic duo (Fiori/Personas) might become the primary way SAP Users interact with SAP – providing an additional option to classic SAP GUI.
Having said that, SAP GUI 7.40 just shipped, including the “Fiori Style” Blue Crystal Theme, and more interestingly, the 7.40 release that comes bundled with SAP NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC). This blog by my fellow SAP Mentor John Moy highlights the value SAP NetWeaver Business Client can add to classic SAP users. It is also worth remembering that many classic SAP GUI screens have been improved with Web Dynpro ABAP via Enhancement Packages (see this example for Plant Maintenance in EhP 6). Finally, look at Personal Object Worklists (POWL), which can help an SAP user understand which objects in the system need their attention (e.g “Purchase Orders past Goods Receipt Date for My Vendors”).
So we start to see a future where power users might use NWBC (hosting a variety of UI technologies) and casual users access content via Fiori LaunchPad/Fiori and Personas. The icing on the cake is the SAP Web IDE (this was formerly called “SAP River – Rapid Development Environment”) to extend existing applications and develop new ones.
So there are plenty of options – you can browser them all at the SAP UX Explorer.
So where do you start?
First Step: Understand Your Problems
Plenty of people complain about “using SAP,” but not so many have really done any analysis on where the specific problems exist. So a logical first step is to perform an analysis of what is driving the problems.
I would suggest you start by creating a matrix that maps your user community and rates the level of problems users have. For the top three areas, you can start to assess what could be done to help and start to build the business case for a new user interface (I discussed a framework for doing this in the 2012 blog series).
Second Step: Understand the Options
The second step, which can run in parallel with the first one, is to understand what the option are. OpenSAP can help here with courses on SAP UX strategy and SAP Fiori. You can also read the SAP UX Strategy and use SCN daily to engage with others who have already started their journey.
Third Step: Hardware and Software
Depending on what you decide, some options will already be available in your landscape (quick wins), while others will require you to adjust your SAP landscape roadmap.
For proof of concepts, you might look at the Cloud Appliance Library or invest in your own innovation system. HANA Enterprise Cloud and HANA Cloud Platform also offer options for fast and lower-cost deployment options. Find more details in my next Cloud blog later this year.
Fourth Step: Create an Implementation Programme
Finally the rubber needs to hit the road. You need to create an implementation plan!
One good thing about most of the UX solutions is they can be run in parallel (not recommended for long term TCO, though). So you can select the best business case for UX renovation and work from there.
If you go through the above process, I predict two things:
- You’ll find a user interface solution you already have, or which could be adopted quickly.
- The user experience that most of your users get today will be radically transformed – and at the end of your three-to-five year roadmap, most users will never have heard of SAP GUI (even though some will still use it via NWBC or Personas).